Sunday, June 10, 2012

Politics and the crisis (by Pedja dell'Arno)

There is little doubt that the current European crisis has a large political component. Mainstream political parties lose appeal and fringe or extremist parties tend to benefit. An exception so far has been the Hollande campaign in France, which shows that not all hope is lost. The crisis can be seen as a huge collective action problem: there is a potential cooperative solution with a higher sum of payoffs for the sum of agents involved, but the parties (countries or individuals) fail to reach it because they do not trust each other. This collective action problem has at least two components:
-A sovereign component. The only solution is European, but our democracies are national. In addition, minorities that feel uncomfortable in their current member states (in Spain, the UK, Italy) wonder whether it is not worth to take the crisis as an opportunity to break away.
-An organizational component. Citizens trust mainstream political parties less and less, because these are not seen as their true represenatatives.
However, since the only solution to the crisis can be collective, it means that only politics can take us out of it. It can only be a different politics. Good technocrats, even when they are available like in Italy, can win some time, but they are ultimately an impossible shortcut to the only solution: better politics.

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